In the religious world, there is good and evil and both are always fighting against each other. The Christians are caught in the middle and we constantly struggle to do and focus on the things that are good. It is sometimes a daily struggle hence the reason the bible says pray without ceasing. If you have been in the religious world for a while, then you know there are some universally accepted rights and wrongs.
Christians always have a moralistic struggle at one or more times in their lives. It’s a fact and we run to comfort scriptures like Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulations, continuing instant in prayer.” I am usually deviant in my thoughts and behaviors so during my struggles, I run to scriptures like Romans 8:14-15 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” For me, this is just a reminder of my human frailty.
This morning I scrolled through Facebook and someone liked a Christian inspiration testimony. Paraphrase: The lady noted her success in her life: married at a young age, kids and both her and spouse are completing higher ed degrees and she attributed it all to her faith, God’s timing and protection. Maybe it’s due to my line of work, but I read such inspirational posts with some cynicism and my thought is “good for them, you are the lucky ones.”
Lots of people do not have their blessings laid out so nicely and some have greater struggles than others (think Aleppo). While reading that post, I was thinking about two things: My current inner demons and that of a new behavioral health patient. Patient X’s inner demons are a doozy which were created from childhood to experiencing a number of very traumatic events throughout X’s life. Patient X had held it together successfully for many years but the final trauma pushed X to the edge and X is starting to slowly fall apart at the seams. X engaged in self punishment of personal life and career. I do not compare my demons to X’s but if I did, then mine would pale significantly; actually most people’s worst would not measure up. The point is no matter the nature of the demons, each of us still have to face them and sometimes they seem greater than God’s promise of protection and strength “he will not give us more than we can manage.”
The mental battle is epic. I tell patients that doing the right thing always seem to be the hardest. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Ahhh… yes.. that peace that passes all understanding can be darn near elusive. However, when you do find it, life is wonderful but it does not always seem to stay too long. Life or the mind gets into a fight to hold onto the peace that is suppose to be so good for you. The constant battle of the inner demons gets tiresome. People fall away from God and decency because we want the battle to be over and we surrender to whatever we were fighting. The loss of hope and not finding even a glimmer of light from anywhere can be psychologically, emotionally and physically devastating. The battle takes a toll. It leaves behind distrust, despair, feeling defeated, emotionally broken and worst case turning to things that are not the best for us such as people, food, alcohol, drugs, sex and suicide.
Patient X is at the beginning of the battle. I would love to tell X that Jesus can make it better but that’s equivalent to telling someone with a gaping wound ‘let me kiss it and it will all go away.’ Unless God plans to do a divine intervention, Patient X has a major fight on hand. God does not take away our struggles or banish our demons- that would be way too easy. We have to make choices about how we will handle our demons. We have to use all the spiritual, cognitive and earthly supports in which we can get. We will make shitty choices ‘do the thing you should not do’ and we will make good choices. We will exhibit our human frailty in all it’s glory, we will get tired of the fight and we will want to roll over and play dead. I have heard enough patients say that they wish they just did not wake up. It’s not about suicide; it’s about wanting a little bit of peace and calmness of the mind. (Matrix fan) It’s sort of like that scene in the last Matrix when Trinity and Neo were fighting the machines and their ship went up above the darkness and clouds and she saw and felt the radiance of the sun and exclaimed “beautiful.”
You know your inner demons and you know the path you have to take or will be in search of the path you need to take. We can’t ignore them. There is no rule that says you have to get it right the first or even third time. The challenge will be to keep fighting until those demons do not have any power anymore.